What to Send Your Kids While They're at Camp
If your camper is off to resident camp for the first time, you need to know that campers love to get mail. Here are a few tips about letter writing to be sure your camper’s mail brings out a smile instead of an onset of homesickness.
- Be positive in the letter. Write about what you want to hear about on Visiting Day or after camp ends — a new song, new friends, or an activity your camper was excited about.
- Acknowledge that you miss your camper, but try adding this spin: “We miss you, but I cannot wait to hear all about the exciting firework displays you wrote about earlier; it makes me happy to hear about all the fun things you have to explore at camp.” It helps a camper feel good about being away just knowing they will bring you joy by telling you all about their camp adventures.
- Make it a puzzle. On opening day of camp, find out who the other campers are in the cabin. Write a letter on a big piece of chart paper. Cut it up into the number of campers in the cabin and mail one piece to each camper. They have to get together to read the letter. Even better, if one letter takes an extra day, it makes mail call that much more exciting tomorrow.
- Try to avoid things that may make your camper feel guilty for being away at camp, such as “the dog hasn’t come out from under the bed since you left,” or things that might make your camper sad to be at camp, like “we took the absolute best trip to Disney World last week.”
- If you are worried about homesickness during the first few days, find out from the camp if you can leave a few pre-written notes for mail call that first week. Write positive, encouraging notes based on the conversations you had before camp. Put a sticky note on the envelope with a delivery date and clandestinely leave them with the administrative staff after your camper is settled into the bunk.
- Mail is popular, but kids are busy. It’s better to write several short letters than one very long letter. Campers enjoy getting mail, but don’t want to spend hours reading it. They want to know you’re thinking of them, but also want to get to the fun with new friends.
Packages are another beloved favorite of all campers! Here are a few tips to keep in mind when sending packages.
- Just like mail, campers prefer several small packages than one big one.
- Most camps discourage you from sending food. If it ends up in the bunk, it can attract furry and not-so-welcome visitors of the four-legged variety. If you just can’t abide by this rule, try sending the snack in a small zip-close bag with one or two servings — for your camper and a friend. And something that can be eaten right then and there, such as two homemade cookies, or a mini candy bar — definitely not the whole jumbo bag. If you made a batch of cookies, you can send another package a few days later with another serving of cookies for even more fun.
- Try to include items that can be shared with bunk mates—it helps build friendships and most likely your camper will show up to collect the package with cabin mates trailing behind to see what they received. Some package ideas include: Temporary tattoos, Mad libs, Nail polish, hair ribbons, etc., Dollar store party favor pack of trinkets, Card games, a small puzzle, in stages — the box and frame pieces first, then chunks of pieces in each forthcoming package. Even better, send several pieces to each camper — and staff — in the cabin to complete it together.
Your camper wants to hear from you and hear their name called at mail call. It doesn’t require a lot of money, but it takes some pre-planning and thought. This can be your summer fun while your camper is away.
Carrie Kashawlic is the director of Fleur de Lis Camp, located in Fitzwilliam.